Erin Henry in the classroom.
Erin Henry in the classroom.

By Connie Adair

“Every day, the more people who learn The Golden Rule, like perfect it, the more people master it, the better the earth will get, every day.” – Max, 8, Tecumseh Public School, talking about The Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule. It has nothing to do with politics and nothing to do with religion. Treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s a simple concept, and Erin Henry is teaching kids how they can use it to change the world.

Henry, a sales rep with Royal LePage in The Kingsway neighbourhood in Toronto, founded the Children’s Charter for Compassion after attending the Vancouver Peace Summit in 2009. The “gathering of compassionate-geared organizations” was attended by the Dalai Lama. Religious scholar and author Karen Armstrong was also at the summit, launching the Charter for Compassion, a global code of conduct.

Regardless of faith, or if you don’t have faith, The Golden Rule is a logical process, thought Henry at the time. But the mother of two wondered if young children, like her own, would “get it.”

Several months later, with the help of friends, she created the Children’s Charter for Compassion, which teaches children about empathy. It focuses on the positive in hopes of getting to the issues, such as bullying, before they happen.

One charter is designed for younger children and the other is for children 13 to 18-years-old. Henry also created two activity books, doing all the work herself and paying material costs out of her own pocket.

“I’m affiliated with organizations who promote the charter, but all the leg work, communications and class visits are me. I’ve had no funding from Day 1,” she says. However, now a printer is helping her out by printing the activity books at cost.

Henry visits classrooms across the GTA and reads books to the children, talks about compassion and has the class take the oath to observe The Golden Rule.

Erin Henry
Erin Henry

The class creates a Tree of Compassion, with leaves that carry messages of acts of kindness and compassion. “Little kids draw pictures of what makes them happy,” Henry says.

A school in London, Ont. was the first in the world to embrace the charter. The second school, in Kincardine, Ont., recently got on board. As compassionate schools, they, for example, may raise funds to donate to the homeless or work together to stop bullying.

More generally, the code of conduct reminds everyone of the standards of behaviour, she says.

“There is no religious connotation. It differentiates so many different faith groups. It’s in no way religious, in no way anti-religion and is not political. It’s very much about character and mindset.”

The one-hour presentations are geared to spreading positive energy and to teach kids to be good people.

The project takes many hours in the week. Henry has lost track of the number of classrooms and schools she has visited. The flexibility of her job as a Realtor helps, she says.

Visits are during school hours, so it also doesn’t interfere with her own children, who help the cause by cutting out leaves for the trees. They have also visited classrooms with their Mom.

It’s tiresome trying to balance it all, says the 20-year real estate veteran.

Her work doesn’t go unnoticed. She says clients are very supportive of her work. “It’s a feel-good project. I want to touch as many people as I can.”

Henry will be one of three people to be recognized for their compassionate work at the 2013 International Conference on Compassionate Organizations in Louisville Kentucky May 16-18.

The program has taken off – Henry no longer has time to help everyone who calls. She’d like to find volunteers who can help her by doing classroom presentations on their own.

For more information or to get involved, contact Erin Henry at 647-242-1327 or visit childrenscharterforcompassion.com or erinhenry.ca

  • Kaysy

    This is a wonderful initiative taken by Erin in her part as a world citizen; A contribution in the form of an act of service to our children, who will be the future business people — including Realtor’s — professional’s, teachers, …etc.

    I am certain that many more people out there are on their day to day lives doing their best to imbue outwardly acts of service to whom they run across as well.

    Unfortunately in today’s day and age, the word “Religion” has been stigmatized with such a negative connotation that we are afraid to attribute virtues and the like to it. Whether we like it or not, human beings are spiritual in nature. But anyways, we won’t talk about it here.

    Never the less, a great service being done by Erin, and I am certain by others too — actually I can think of at least a few projects being taken with children and junior youth 12-15 yr olds in the GTA, one of them being taken in a public school in Vaughan — for educating our children about compassion, kindness and other virtues.

    Erin if you’re interested to hear about the school initiative in Vaughan let me know (kaysy@trusterramortgage.com) and I can introduce you to the locals there. Maybe you guys can reflect together on the work you are doing, and gain further insight and experience from each other. :)

    All the best,
    Kaysy
    http://www.TrusterraMortgage.com

    • Erin

      Thank you. Just to clarify, the emphasis on the fact that it is in no way religious, is nothing more then to let people know that EVERYONE is included whether or not they believe in one faith or another or nothing at all. There is no stigma. In fact the opposite. In today’s day and age, religious affiliations can tend to alienate.

      All the best,
      Erin

  • Michael Kuruc

    Absolutely wonderful!
    I do not remember where I heard this from, but: “treat people the way “THEY” want to be treated”…this one is even better.
    Peace,
    Mick

    • Erin

      I love that one too! Thanks for sharing!
      Erin

  • Tina

    When you sold my house for a record-breaking sum, I knew you were a great realtor. How wonderful that you are also a great person!

    • Erin

      Thanks Tina! It helps when you have wonderful clients too!

  • Brian Martindale

    Erin:

    My hat is off to you.

    Words cannot express the true extent of the depth of values that you have chosen to personally pass on to the next generation, one small group of young, impressionable minds at a time, over and over again.

    You could be making so much more money in lieu of promoting goodness.

    Good on you for your choices in life.

    With the greatest of respect,

    Brian

    • Erin

      Brian, your words are very much appreciated. Sometimes we don’t realize the fantastic opportunities that are within our grasp. Kind regards,
      Erin Henry